Airline awards and rankings – just how much do those matter when passengers decide whom to fly with

RANKINGS AND RATINGS – THE CHASE FOR HONOURS IN 2015 HAS STARTED

(Posted 26th January 2015)

Skytrax’ rankings, arguably the market leader in airline and airport reviews for the global aviation community, are no doubt the most sought after accolades and awards any airline could wish for. That said, there are other ranking and rating systems and organizers in place of course and when missing the podium with one, options are at hand to clinch a place among the top three through other means. In addition are travel and business magazines every year having their own readers cast their votes, making for yet another wave of awards and recognitions which help the chosen airlines to market themselves and put trophies in their display cases.

Emirates ‘only’ managed to get four stars from Skytrax, almost inexplicably unable to join Gulf rivals Qatar Airways and, among others, Singapore Airlines in the top tier but that said, other surveys come up with other results.

It is in this spirit – and from personal experience, not too often I should add, having a preference for other airlines, I can vouch that Emirates is a very good airline – did I receive and decided to publish details from a survey carried out by eDreams, sampling some 90.000 travellers, which ranks, you guessed right, Emirates as the top airline in five categories.

Start quote:

Customers worldwide have spoken and Emirates airline has been ranked as the Best Airline in 2014, according to an annual study by eDreams, one of the largest e-commerce travel companies in Europe.

The annual study of best airlines consisted of over 90,000 customer reviews from all over the world. Travellers that booked on the site weighed in through their own reviews on best airlines, best entertainment options, baggage handling and modernity of aircraft, among other categories. Emirates swept most of the categories with an overall rating of 4.24 out of the top score of 5. Emirates also ranked highest in overall cleanliness and modernity of aircraft and also received the highest ratings for best in-flight entertainment, best flight attendant service, best VIP lounges and best baggage handling.

End quote

Emirates’ country manager for Uganda, Thani Abdulla Al Ansari was swift to comment: ‘Being acknowledged by our customers for the hard work and investments that go into our product and positive service attitude both in the air and on the ground, is the most important recognition we can receive. We served 47 million customers in 2014 and are always looking for ways to enhance the travel experience, from the destination options and global connections that we offer, to our onboard services and worldwide network of dedicated lounges on the ground. We are committed to continuing to provide our customers with an unparalleled level of service across all categories’.

True enough has Emirates, as acknowledged before, attained very good service levels and passengers flying out of Entebbe on their daily service to Dubai, fill the aircraft for exactly those reasons. They probably care little about rankings and awards, as long as they get good fares, good inflight service, added baggage allowances and swift connections in Dubai to their final destination. For those just heading to Dubai it is important that they get their Visa processed by Emirates’ with minimum inconvenience unlike getting a UK, US or a Schengen Visa, which can be a nightmare and a half besides costing the proverbial arm and a leg.

Being the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380, which offers free Wi-Fi on board for passengers in all classes does Emirates now fly to 147 destinations around the world with a fleet of 231 aircraft, all wide bodies.

The one big advantage Emirates has in the Ugandan market is their use of a wide body aircraft for their daily flights to Dubai. It may only be perception but passengers almost unconsciously prefer the larger cabins and twin aisles compared to other airlines using smaller aircraft. Turkish uses a B737-800 for Entebbe, Qatar uses an A320 and when Etihad comes to Entebbe in May they will also use an A320. FlyDubai also use a B737-800 so Emirates’ use of a wide body aircraft stands out. That is why they can give passengers generous baggage allowances, which is very important for those who go to Dubai for the annual shopping festival for instance. If you are stuck with 20 or so KG’s it is not funny when you check in on the way home and are ripped off for extra weight. Apart from that they offer great hotel packages from very modestly priced to top class hotels. As you say, they might not have scored 5 star with Skytrax but as far as we are concerned, as travel agents, they score high with our passengers and that is what really matters’ responded a leading travel agent from Kampala when asked to read over the media release and comment.

And so it is ultimately the passengers who decide what criteria matter to them when choosing an airline to fly to their final destination, with the cost of the ticket, the safety of operations, the inflight catering, the baggage allowance and the service on the ground and on board all playing part of making that decision where to spend their money.

Five star for you may not be five star for me and five star may in fact not be what some passengers want, especially when they are looking for bargains and cheap tickets. But that said, the ranking and rating ‘industry’ has to justify their existence and of course are airline executives putting on their Sunday best when collecting their awards. PR agencies then of course go into overdrive to spread the news, an entire logistics trail connected to and following the ‘award industry’.

What good news then that when flying out of Entebbe the choices are many and lo and behold, during the peak travel season there are hardly any seats left, on any of the airlines coming to the Pearl of Africa.

Quod erat demonstrandum – they all have their faithful followers, five, four, three or less stars, for reasons best known to the passengers themselves. Happy Landings!

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